Telephone Scams Are On The Rise: How To Identify And Avoid Them

If you’ve received a call from an unknown number stating that your social security number has been suspended for suspicious activity—you’ve likely encountered one of this year’s more infamous phone scams. These startling messages will inform you that fraudulent activity has been detected with your social security number, and to call back or speak to an agent to resolve the issue.

Unfortunately, this phone scam is only one of many. Not only has there been an influx in phone scams attempting to steal your social security information, but there has also been a widespread scam targeting bank customers nationwide. To better assist you with navigating these complex situations, we’ve provided a few tips on how to identify phone scams and avoid them.

Steps to Identify and Avoid a Scam Call

Step 1: Never give personal info over the phone unless you initiate the call

If a company calls you unexpectedly and asks for your credit card details, social security number or any other form of sensitive information, you should begin to draw suspicion. In these instances, it is highly suggested to refrain from providing the caller with the information they’ve requested.

Step 2: Ask probing questions to identify intentions

If you’ve answered the phone and are engaging with the caller, ask probing questions to better identify why they’re calling and why they’re requesting your personal information. Asking specific questions such as “When is the last time I called you?” may prompt the caller to hang up. If you receive answers that are distrustful, immediately disengage from the conversation.

Step 3: Play it smart

A direct call is not a formal method of communication for the IRS. If the IRS is to contact you, you’ll receive notification by mail. Be aware that the IRS will never call you for immediate payment. If you receive a call from an individual claiming to be a part of the IRS, trust that it’s a fake call.

Step 4: Outwit the tech scammers

Tech support scammers have a game: they’ll call you in regards to a tech support service that you’ve never inquired about and often request payment in exchange for services you don’t need. Many of these scammers have been known to ask for payment via wire, gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or money transfer apps.

If you receive a similar call, hang up and report the number immediately to the Federal Trade Commission.

Step 5: Be a hero

Many individuals fall victim to phone scams. Posting an offender’s number on community sites helps others avoid unfavorable events from occurring. Sites such as 800notes provide you with a platform to list the number associated with the scam call and share your experience.

Step 6: Block robocalls and spam calls

Fraudulent calls don’t have to reach your phone. If you have an Apple or Android device, you can utilize the built-in phone number blocking feature to prevent scam calls. Some mobile carriers offer blocking tools as well. Smartphone apps, such as Robokiller, automatically block over 1.1 million spam numbers. Download spam blocking apps to stop unwanted calls from contacting your number.

Prudential Bank is here to help

Are you a small or medium-sized business? If so, check out our Corporate Account Takeover Guide for tips to avoid corporate identity theft and practice business account safety. For additional questions or concerns in regards to fraudulent bank calls, get in touch with us.

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